Kickstarter Project In-Depth Exclusive Details, Part 1.

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Today is your lucky day: I’m spilling some behind-the-scenes details of my Kickstarter project to everyone, not just my Kickstarter Insider’s Club members.

As you know, I talk about my upcoming Kickstarter project because I want you to learn from watching me try to launch a venture.  I may completely fail at this; I may be entirely successful…and that’s the beauty of the situation.  This isn’t just some canned “How-To” list written by some English-major intern that has never tried to start a company before.

This shit is real.

Normally, I won’t write in such detail about my Kickstarter on the main portion of my blog.  That luxury is reserved for members of the Kickstarter Insider’s Club, who gain play-by-play, behind-the-scenes access into my product’s development, our trials, and tribulations.

But I posted so much detail here today to clue you in as to the project’s details, and to show you what you’re missing out on if you’re not a member of the Kickstarter Insider’s Club (note- even if you signed up for e-mail updates here at Decoding Startups, you’re not automatically a member of the Kickstarter Insider’s Club!).

Our project is the SnapCase, run through our new phone-case company FusionCase, an iPhone case where you can choose and change the back design, called snaps.

fusion-case-1

Why the SnapCase?

Take a look at this marketing teaser I wrote for the SnapCase:

We like our things to reflect who we are, and what we’re doing.  We customize our outfits, our offices, our homes…but there’s one thing that goes with us everywhere that we can customize the least: the look of our phone.  Our phone case is too hard to customize.  It’s too hard to take off and put a new one on…and who would want to buy a huge box of cases?

And even though your phone case would be an awesome place for added functionality when you need it—a wallet for going out, a card holder for a networking event—you wouldn’t want to “get stuck” with that permanently on the back of your case!

Enter the SnapCase.

SnapCase puts you in control of your iPhone case through its handmade, changeable backs called snaps. 

SnapCase takes style, beauty and functionality to the next level.  Its line of artisan, hand-crafted snaps are made from the highest quality, most unique material, including leather, hand paintings (made custom for you!) and vintage comic books.

SnapCase’s unprecedented line of functional snaps make your phone more than just a brick in your pocket.  SnapCase’s money clip, business card, and bottle opener snaps are perfect for accessorizing your phone case for when you need them.  When you’re done, simply snap one of the artisan snaps back on.

Imagine an iPhone case that looked just the way you want: high quality, handmade quality, changing when you want, and added functionality when you need it.

A stylish back to match your outfit for work, for going out with friends, and for going to a party.

Or imagine a functional snap that made it easy to store cards at a networking event, or to pop open a beer at a party.

What’s amazing about SnapCase is the sheer number of possibilities available for the future.  The SnapCase team is already pondering dozens of other artisan and functional snap designs, and is looking forward to soliciting designs from customers and Kickstarter backers.

Other cases make you choose.

SnapCase gives you options.

Why are we making the SnapCase?

We’re making the SnapCase because we realized we could develop a “new paradigm” in phone cases. As I discussed above, people love customization, and they like the things they have to reflect them at any given moment.  And phone cases are classically difficult to do this with…that is, until the SnapCase came along ;-) .

I will note that some folks have developed cases similar to SnapCase in the past.  But the distinctions between them clearly set SnapCase in an echelon all its own.  This is probably one of the most important considerations we’ve had with SnapCase: how do you make your product different from the other ones on the market?  (We’ll get into the details of how we did this later in this post).

 

Who is our target market?

This has been, by far, the trickiest part of our efforts so far.

Designing the product has been relatively easy.  Finding manufacturers isn’t hard, especially in Connecticut where there’s a billion different manufacturers.  Figuring out how much we have to raise from the Kickstarter is fairly easy too.

But how do we make our product “just right” so that a certain group of people will want to buy it?…that’s a tough question to answer.

As you can imagine, with a case like ours, there’s a million different directions you could go: cheap, colorful designs; high-quality, artisan-crafted designs; licensing with big brands (sports teams, TV shows) to produce backs with their designs on them…

We are keenly aware that we can’t win a game played by producing commodity-like, low-end goods (since those games are played on pricing and pumping & dumping new, cheap products on the market).  But we can win a game where we brand ourselves as a unique, high-quality item that has a good story to tell.

But who will buy a high-quality (i.e. higher-priced) item?

We think that our market is folks between 25-35 who are into stylish, unique things.  Think of a GQ reader, and someone who would shop at Brookstone.  That group of folks has enough money to spend on cool things like the SnapCase, and would be interested in the styles we’ve developed.

How we proved the concept-

There’s certainly no “proof” of our concept yet.  That’s why we are putting it on Kickstarter: to see if the market likes it, and to help further refine our product and target market.

As is a constant theme of Decoding Startups, the best way to learn about entrepreneurship and starting a business is to go and do it.  Entrepreneurship is a process that can be learned and executed.  Regardless of the success (or failure) of this project, what I learn from  it will invariably help with other product launches in the future.

Aren’t you making a pretty big assumption that people will care about customizing their iPhone case?

In a sense, yes.

But as I mentioned above, the point of putting something on Kickstarter is to test and get feedback.  By putting our product on Kickstarter, we’re inherently admittting to the world “we’re putting this out here for you to decide if you like it”, and letting the market tell us one way or the other.

We believe, though, that this concept has not already been established successfully by someone else (in a saturated market such as developing iPhone cases, you’d think someone could have hopped in and done this already) is because they don’t give a compelling reason to customize one’s phone case.

They assume that if they just make a customizable phone case with some sort of customization abilities, that people will love it automatically.  Other cases in this space are exactly that: they print (read: print) a bunch of random designs on the back of plastic or aluminum case backs, and say “have fun kids!”.

The way I see it, people would customize their phone case if:

  • Doing so gave them a useful function that they needed at a particular moment
  • They realized their phone case could be a highly-accurate reflection of their personality, mood and preferences.

So if the customized designs are just a bunch of random, mass-produced crap, who would want to buy it?

But if the customized designs are a.) useful (the functional snaps), b.) high-quality and unique , and c.) premised on telling a marketing story of allowing us to express ourselves easily and in a quality way, we can be successful.

So, we’re not just producing random crap.  What we’re producing is high-quality, unique and useful.  And we’re telling an awesome story to go with it.

As a final note: success of our product is about niche.  It’s about creating a product that deeply satisfies a small group of people, as opposed to standing as a novelty to a larger group.  It’s not about trying to please them all (I plan on an article about developing niche products in the future!).

Check out Part 2-

Part 2 (coming in a couple days) discusses how we came up with the SnapCase (it was a long, long process), and an analysis of the work we’ve done so far, what we’ve learned, and what we have left to do.

What do you want me to focus on?

Here at Decoding Startups, I am at your service.  Tell me what I should focus on writing, and I’ll gladly do it.  Should I spend more time on marketing?  How we came up with the idea?  How we lined up manufacturing?  Do you have any questions about what I’ve written so far?  Let me know, and I’ll spill all the beans!

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Leather samples we’re considering using for snaps.

 

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Our basic prototype. We did this first to make sure the overall case design was right.

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